Blackshear Place Baptist Church
Physical address: 3428 Atlanta Highway, Flowery Branch
Mailing address: 3461 Atlanta Highway, Flowery Branch
Phone number: 770-534-7058
Sunday worship services: 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday celebration worship and 9:30 a.m. worship @ The Venue
Bible fellowship classes: 8 a.m. , 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Wednesday service: 6:30 p.m.
Nestled in the corner of Atlanta Highway and Mundy Mill Road in Flowery Branch, Blackshear Place Baptist Church shines with its three stories of windows and towering silver steeple.
The church is a destination for Christians across the region — more than 7,000 members travel from across Hall, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Habersham and Dawson counties weekly for worship and fellowship.
The congregation has been growing continuously, church leaders say, and the already large worship center is no longer meeting the needs. Therefore, plans are in place to construct a new worship center and renovate building on the 40-acre campus.
The church will break ground Sunday, May 1, and expects the project to be complete by Easter 2018.
“It’s always been our purpose here to impact Northeast Georgia for the gospel,” administrative pastor Christopher Martin said. “With the growth that’s happening in Hall County and Gwinnett, Jackson, Barrow and the whole region ... we’ve kind of maxed out capacity of what we currently have here.”
The church facility encompasses about 100,000 square feet, Martin said. During its last renovation in 2007, Blackshear Place updated its worship center and built a preschool and children’s space. Both will be part of the upcoming construction and renovation plans.
Stephen Odum, director of communications for Blackshear Place, said the current sanctuary or worship center seats 1,100 people. Constructed in 1995, it was renovated 10 years later for more seating to the large balcony. Underneath the balcony, another section of seats was added.
Plans for the new sanctuary will be seating for 2,000, with room to expand for 3,000. It’s to accommodate the growing congregation.
“We’re running three morning services in here on Sundays,” Martin said. “Then an additional service at the South Hall Community Center, which we call the Venue, right down the road from us. So we’re running four Sunday morning services, and a Sunday evening service as well.”
The new worship center will be constructed on a small parking lot between the main building and gym and office building.
Martin said it is “the bulk of the project.” It will include a coffee shop, a massive lobby and a guest reception space for members to meet with the pastor, Odum said.
“The new building is going to really fill this whole space,” Odum said. “It’ll have a new front door with a giant cross that’s 80 feet tall. You’ll come up Mundy Mill ... and come right into the front of our property. But the back side, looking from Atlanta Highway, will be very beautiful as well.”
Once the new worship center is built, the existing space will be revamped. The balcony will be turned into private rooms for adult Bible fellowship and the rest of the sanctuary will be converted into a smaller event space.
Major changes will be made to the preschool and children’s ministry as well. The church’s preschool accepts children starting at 18 months and the children’s ministry is for kindergarten through fifth grade.
Each floor has a theme. The children’s Venture Zone has space exploration theme with dark skies and glowing planets. On the other floor, the preschool has a “real bright and cheery ‘Small Town’ theme,” Odum said.
The facility has an indoor and outdoor play area and a theater for puppet shows.
“Because of our growth, preschool is actually forcing the children out of this building,” Martin said. “So our older preschoolers are needing to coming up a floor.”
The upcoming renovations to Blackshear Place include creating more space for the kindergarten through fifth grade ministry, which is housed on one floor.
“One of the buildings they’ll be doing in this project is Building D, which is actually our gym,” Martin said. “That’s going to be renovated to have third, fourth and fifth grade over there.”
The new space will retain the Venture Zone theme and include a welcome desk, classrooms and a children’s theater.
The entire project will cost $18.2 million, and a capital campaign called the See Vision raised $11 million in pledges. The church’s finance team recommended a short-term note to allow the project to advance with the pledges.
Martin said the true purpose of the project is to reach more people in the community and for the church to be a good steward of its 40 acres.
“We firmly believe the light that shines farthest, shines brightest,” he said. “The goal is to make this an even healthier church, an even more vibrant community of believers, so we can reach out farther into the community and around the world.”